Buggy started in 2014 with a business built around drivers who fulfilled customer orders by shopping at brick-and-mortar grocery stores. However, the company is increasingly turning its attention to what Verkindt describes as the “instant needs business.”
“We’ve all got very addicted to Amazon and next-day delivery, but think about the number of things on Amazon where [customers] are like ‘Next day’s great, but it would be so nice if I can have that in 30 minutes.’”
Fast delivery has gained a significant foothold in Europe and the U.S. in recent years, with companies Fridge No More, Gitir, Gopuff, Gorillas and Jokr all vying for a share of the market.
“It’s completely exploded pretty much everywhere except for Canada, but it’s coming,” says Verkindt, who took over as Buggy’s chief executive earlier this year following the death of the company’s founder and CEO Julian Gleizer last year.
Verkindt says she initially had some misgivings about the quick grocery model, but became convinced of its viability after visiting dark stores in London and seeing how it had been adopted in smaller, more rural markets.
“A lot of the press has been focusing on cities like New York because it became very competitive very quickly and [services in those markets] were committing to really crazy delivery times, like under 10 minutes,” she says. “I think the big part of this story is how prevalent it is in middle America. It’s really quite common and used quite a lot.”
She sees rapid delivery accounting for “the majority” of Buggy’s future growth. “I’m really confident that it’s a way better service for customers,” she says, noting that the dark store approach gives the company full control over its inventory.
Toronto tech company OrderGrid oversee inventory management for Buggy. OrderGrid’s cloud-based software provides dark store operators with the tools needed to order, receive, put away, manage and publish inventory for thousands of products in real time across hundreds of websites.
“That’s why I believe rapid delivery service is going to be the future of the company,” says Verkindt. “At every second of every day, we know exactly what we have in inventory in each store, so no customer is ever going to go on the app and see an Envy Apple unavailable.”
Encountering out-of-stock message or substitutions is the leading cause of frustration for online grocery shoppers, says Verkindt. “In the traditional model you stick the Envy Apples in your cart, you’re excited about it, and then the shopper gets to the store and realizes there are only Granny Smith and they put them in your bag. It’s a big hole in the traditional model.”
The goal, says Verkindt, is to grow the Buggy business thoughtfully and with a keen focus on customer service. “You really want to take your time with these customers, make sure you deliver exactly what they expect at the exact time you say,” she says. “You really want them to make it a habit.”